It’s common for people to think of basements as a place for young people to start ill-fated companies. That means you might not have a very high opinion of companies that started out in a basement. However, the truth is that many companies that initially worked out of a basement are still around today. Look at these companies that started in a basement, then consider some of the ones that have made the most impact.
This tutoring company is well-known over 80 years after its initial founding, and that’s partially because it’s such a good concept. Kaplan got its start in 1938, when its eponymous founder realized that many of the immigrant families in the area were ill-prepared for upcoming standardized tests. He started tutoring them out of his parents’ basement in Brooklyn. The company took off, and in 2018, it had an annual revenue of $1.5 billion.
Virgin Group (1966)
Technically, Virgin Group isn’t so much a company as an investment group. However, this investment group is a huge deal, having invested in a variety of businesses over the years. The founder, entrepreneur Richard Branson, got his start at only 16 years old as a student magazine creator in his co-founder’s basement. They didn’t even have any capital. However, over time, they were able to build the company into its current valuation of $4.7 billion.
Yankee Candle (1969)
Have you ever looked down a full aisle of scented candles? If so, you probably have Michael Kittredge II to thank. For a long time, scented candles existed, but most people considered them an unnecessary novelty. In 1969, however, Michael Kittredge II created a candle for his mother out of melted crayons, adding the maximum amount of fragrance possible. It was such a hit that neighbors started asking him to make more. The popularity of scented candles soared, and in 2013, the company sold for $1.75 billion.
Martha Stewart Living (1976)
Just about everyone has heard of Martha Stewart; even though she has gained a certain amount of notoriety, many people still think of her as a homey and gracious presence. Her brand started when she launched a catering company out of her basement; over time, she started to meet a variety of people in the publishing industry, and things grew from there. At the peak of its popularity in 1999, Martha Stewart Living had a valuation of $2 billion; it most recently traded in 2019 for $175 million.
Melissa & Doug (1988)
Have you ever thought about the importance of toys? Toys are extremely important for parents and children alike, and Melissa & Doug wants to make sure you have a variety of toy options available to you. In fact, at its first launch, it was selling short films and instructional videos, but that quickly changed after it realized the importance and usefulness of children’s toys. Today, the company offers over 2,000 types of toys and has a valuation of $400 million.
Epic Games (1991)
If the name “Epic Games” doesn’t ring a bell for you, maybe you’ll recognize “Fortnite,” the name of the company’s most successful media franchise. In a sense, this worldwide sensation got its start in 1991, when Epic Games’ founder Tim Sweeney started designing video games with a personal computer in his parents’ basement. Although Epic Games has had many moderately successful franchises over the years, it recently struck gold with Fortnite, and it has a current valuation of $15 billion.
As you can see, it’s not just teenagers’ pipe dreams that started in basements. A variety of the world’s most well-known and beloved companies started out in basements; many of these companies now boast a valuation of over $1 billion. If you think you might have a billion-dollar idea of your own, you may want to make sure you’re paying attention to the health of your basement. It could be the place you start the next billion-dollar company.